Abhinivesha Klesha: Clinging to Life

Our exploration of the Klesha has given us an opportunity to explore the different games our minds play with us to keep us from the true and ultimate reality.  These games fuse together into the great dance of life, dropping one foot and then another into the earthly world, the world of duality, where we live and love and learn the deep lessons that our souls are craving.

In this way, each klesha is a blessing for the gifts we learn from living wrapped in the illusion, then from awakening to observe the illusion, and finally in its unveiling.

The final klesha is Abhinivesha, the klesha of clinging to life.  In this gripping to a particular version of reality, we are unable to turn our gaze and twist deeply, looking over our opposite shoulder to the beauty of the non-dual world of which we’ve always been a part.

Marichyasana Three - Yogic Twist
Marichyasana Three – Yogic Twist

This klesha is the most ingrained within us.  After all, who of us would not move to rescue ourselves when faced with danger?  Our bodies naturally purge when we injest a poison, an inner force will impel us to move out the way if a car is bearing down on us or we find ourselves face to face with the sharp teeth of a dangerous animal.

I believe that embracing this klesha involves accepting the inevitability of our mortality.  That acceptance can take different forms.

On the one hand, accepting our mortality means that we accept the outward visible signs that come with aging.  They mean that we don’t reach for the hair dye the first time we notice a gray hair make its appearance on our head and it means that we’re able to live graciously with wrinkles and our changing bodies and continue loving ourselves and seeing our inner beauty as we walk through the passage of time.

We can practice this deep and abiding acceptance of our mortality by living softly with the little deaths that we face in our day-to-day lives.  Each time we don’t cling to a life situation that is changing, we prepare ourselves to not cling when it is time to leave this earthly plane for whatever comes next.  When we accept that the beauty we are creating today will, more likely than not, not be around tomorrow, we practice living fully and artfully here without knowledge of what will come tomorrow.

courtesy of Tim Keller Photography, these Tibetan Monks create a painstakingly detailed sand mandala that will be washed away on completion.
courtesy of Tim Keller Photography, these Tibetan Monks create a painstakingly detailed sand mandala that will be washed away on completion.

The final way we can move our conciousness beyond the klesha of Abhinivesha is in living comfortably with the knowledge that each moment could easily be our last.  Living in this comfort means that we stop making decisions based on fear.  We choose to live life on its own terms and to stop avoiding experiences that may be dangerous.  For example, if your heart calls you to take a dive into a bubbling, cool river, you do so with joy and release worry of the crocodiles that may be hiding in the long grass.

While this way of living may seem like recklessness, I would argue that living within fear and limitations is really more reckless.  After all, we each have to die at some point, why not have that death come while you are living life to the fullest?  Living without Abhinivesha means that you are able to follow your heart into each moment and trust that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it should.  This trust in the dance of the universe means that you acknowledge your lack of control.  In surrendering your false sense of control, you offer yourself up to living fully and trusting that your story will end when the time is right.

To Practice Abhnivesha, begin to play with Pranayama.  The yogis say that we are practicing the little death when we suspend our breath in Pranayama practice.  Sit in a comfortable seated pose, and bring your right pointer finger and middle finger up to your third eye – the point between and above your brows.  With your eyes closed, bring your inner gaze to your third eye.  Place your thumb gently on the swell of your right nostril, and rest your ring finger on the swell of your left.  Depress your thumb slightly and exhale completely through your left nostril, pause and then inhale through your left nostril.  Pause as you release pressure from your left nostril, and gently press your ring finger down to block your left nostril as you open your right.  Exhale through your right nostril, then pause for the length of time it takes you to mentally chant OM.  Inhale through your right nostril, pause and switch fingers as you close your right nostril and open your left.  Exhale through your left nostril and pause, mentally chanting OM.  Continue this excercise for 11 minutes.  If you like, you can mentally chant the following mantra twice as you inhale and twice as you exhale to ensure that you have an equal length inhale and an equal length exhale:

Humee Hum Brahm Hum

This mantra means “We are we and we are God.”  This meditation will connect you to the interconnectedness of all of life and remind you of the deep and infinite peace that you hold within.  Expect to find more creativity and freedom as you practice releasing the Abhinivesha Klesha.

Links to Other Klesha Posts:

Raga: The Klesha of Pleasure

Asmita: The Klesha of Ego

Dvesha: The Klesha of Aversion

Kleshas: Avidya Dances with Maya

6 thoughts on “Abhinivesha Klesha: Clinging to Life

  1. I had a very profound moment as a child in which I bowed to Mortality, and because of that moment I have for a long time been comparatively comfortable with the idea of Death…how can I be sure that I am not merely intellectualizing and keeping distance from this Reality with thinking? Or is this klesha largely a matter of Thinking altogether?

  2. What an interesting question, thank you for sharing! I think the Kleshas give us a way to talk about the games our minds play to keep us with reality. As we begin to release the kleshas, we begin to move away from our thoughts and into a more bodily experience. In this space, feelings, emotions, and energy carry more weight than our thoughts!

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